After watching as much as I could bear of the GOP convention last night, I gained a little insight into why the phrase “Make America Great Again” has such resonance for some people.
It’s because the America that they see is a sad and terrifying place, under assault from within and without and about to tumble into an abyss from which it may never emerge Dark clouds and dark people threaten it, and only the Golden One, with his very good brain and very strong “strength” — seriously, you cannot believe how strong his strength is — can rescue us.
For the most part, these dire descriptions of America’s future were delivered by a string of what are purported to be reality TV stars, which I guess is appropriate given that the GOP nominee is himself a reality TV star. Certainly, the speakers’ resumes were impressive — “Duck Dynasty,” “The Apprentice,” “Celebrity Wife Swap,” “The Real World” — this is now the pool from which we draw our country’s new class of inspirational leaders and political analysts, and the results were impressive.
For example, one Calvin Klein model/reality TV/soap opera star revealed to us after his speech that Barack Obama is not actually a Christian.
“I’ve met a lot of Christians. I know Christians,” Antonio Sabàto (“Celebrity Wife Swap”,” Celebrity Circus”) told ABC News. “I am one, and I don’t believe he is. I believe that he’s on the other side — the Middle East. He’s with the bad guys. He’s with them. He’s not with us. He’s not with this country.”
“You can feel it and you can see it everywhere. There’s no stability, nothing seems right and all the things that we hold dear are being attacked every single day. We cannot go down this road any more. We need to stop.”
And under Donald Trump, you know what we’ll get?
“Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
Saturday, what a day
Groovin’ all week with you!”
Baio did reassure us that no, despite what you might believe, Donald Trump is not the messiah, “he’s just a man who wants to give back to his country.” In fact, Trump’s amazing, world-class humility and self-sacrifice seems to be one of the developing themes of the week. “I am, actually, humble,” Donald himself said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.”
In terms of humility, Mother Teresa was a loser compared to Donald.
The one bright moment of Monday night came when Melania Trump came onstage to speak to America. She explained how she had come to this country some 20 years ago as a simple, starving supermodel, wearing nothing but the Christian Dior on her back, and how much she loved the man and the country that had taken her in.
Like Baio, she extolled “the simple goodness of the heart that God gave Donald Trump,” and promised great things ahead.
“Now is the time to use those gifts as never before, for purposes far greater than ever before. And he will do this better than anyone else can… and it won’t even be close. Everything depends on it, for our cause and for our country.”
The most moving portion of her speech, a speech that Mrs. Trump told reporters that she had written herself, from her heart, came when she revealed how her parents back in Slovenia, Amalia and Viktor, had taught her that “you work hard for what you want in life,” that “that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect.”
“We need to pass those lessons on to many generations to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them,” she told the cheering crowd, which seemed ecstatic to hear this affirmation of all that makes America great.
It was a nice moment, the highlight of the night, but as it turned out later, it was even more amazing than we knew, because Michelle Obama’s parents, Fraser and Marian, had taught her THE EXACT SAME THING!
“… Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them,” Michelle Obama said in her own convention speech in 2008. “And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Coincidence? Hah. You see things like that, and you realize that those who predict decline and decay for this country are simply flat-out wrong. Because what are the odds that we might have two consecutive First Ladies — one raised on the South Side of Chicago, the other in far-off Slovenia — who would have been taught the exact same thing, in much the same words? That kind of thing doesn’t happen just by accident. It’s a sign that despite the naysayers, this country is still blessed, that American exceptionalism and greatness remain our national destiny.
I am so comforted by that knowledge.